Friday, January 3, 2014

Rick's Ramp Project 01 - Project Scope

It is a long time custom in model railroading to build a model for a friend's layout.  Partly this is out of necessity as a layout, even a small one, can have hundred of structures.  It is also a way to feel a part of the railroad, especially when your friend is a very long way 2,315 miles to be exact.  I asked my long time model train friend Rick Wade to allow me to contribute to his layout.

Here is the project Rick came up with.  He needs a loading platform on his 1960's HO scale L&N Richlawn Railroad.  We can do that!


I sure could use a timber freight platform similar to below except  where the ladder on the left is would be left off so that a truck could back up to the platform.  On the right instead of the narrow ramp perhaps the ramp would be as wide as the platform?  It should be boxcar door height (of course) and can be any wood construction you desire - use your imagination!   To set the stage:  The time period is the 1960's and the platform is still used and showing some age (but not falling down).   Thanks!

Scott,  nope - dimensions aren't critical. 

This could be a fun, one night project.  Ramps like these are common all over the United States.  Once upon a time they were used very heavily as LCL, or Less than Car Load traffic was common.  In the 1960's they were still pretty common, although they were mostly going into a state of disrepair.  Usually made with very heavy timber stock and nut/bolt/washer assemblies, they were hardy structures that could last well beyond their usefulness.  More modern ramps are cast in concrete.  I've got some photos in my collection of these and will dig them up.

As with any model I build...STUDY THE PROTOTYPE FIRST!

Here are some links to prototypes:

Wow!  Surprisingly there are few photos of freight ramps on the internet, yet I know they were prevalent throughout the country!  Reminds me to take pictures of more of them as I see them and get them posted.

Creative thoughts:
  • I have a ton of HO scale crossties that could be used for the construction, maybe with a gravel/dirt fill.
  • Maybe stacked stone with a wood top?
  • Dirt/gravel filled ones seem to exist with just a frame around them to hold it together
  • Piling (trestle type) ones are common in the modeling arena and are interesting to look at

Model parameters:
  • HO Scale
  • Wood construction
  • Ramp as wide as the deck
  • Heavily used and worn, but not dilapidated
  • Boxcar and truck height for loading
  • Ladder to the side of unloading area

Ok, I think I've got the idea.  I'll make a sketch with some dimensions and get back to you.  This could be a good Saturday afternoon project.  Stay tuned!

Comments?  We'd appreciate them!  Photos as well!  Please post below.


1.  When making something for someone else, get clear instructions and ask a lot of questions, then capture it in writing.
2.  First, study the prototype.  Don't base your model on another model.
3.  Photos are easily available on the internet, but you may not always find what you need.  Consider grabbing your camera and going to the real thing and shooting your own photos.



  1. Something to keep in mind - the height of the platform to match the box car is probably not the right height to match up to a truck. Based on some quick checking I found that a typical box car opening is 3' 7.5" above the ground, a truck is about 4' 6". You may need to account for this in your design but it will depend on the equipment he is actually using. One scale foot isn't much in HO, but probably too much to ignore. You can handle this by having the drive approach for the truck dug down the extra foot so the platform is all the same height. Just something to think about.

  2. Right you are, Mack. I shouldn't write blogs and work at the same time! The ramp has to be mounted on the layout and there can be a rise or lowering of the dirt in front of the ramp. Since I don't know exactly where Rick will put it, I'll leave it to him. The main thing I didn't want to do is to exceed the maximum height of the NMRA platform dimension. Keep those cards and letters coming, folks!


Thanks for your comment!